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Nexus Dialogues Workshop // The Water-Energy-Food Nexus in the Niger Basin

By Luca Ferrini. Increasing demand for water, energy and soil resources, and competing uses in the context of climate variability, population growth and a complex web of governance levels constitute a major challenge for a balanced resource planning in the Niger river basin. This was discussed at the first regional Nexus water-energy-food security dialogue workshop in the Niger Basin that took place in Niamey on 18 and 19 October 2017.

Veuillez cliquer ici pour la version française de cet article, SVP.

The Workshop was an opportunity to launch the NEXUS Regional Dialogue with the focal structures of the Niger Basin Authority and civil society representatives, and carry out a consultation on the water, energy, agriculture and environment cross-cutting challenges that are most pressing in the nine basin countries. At the same time, the opportunity served as the first capacity-building activity to scientifically introduce the concept of NEXUS, with the aim of enabling participants to be multipliers and trainers in their national contexts.

The workshop witnessed the participation of more than 60 representatives of the 9 countries of the basin for the following sectors: water, energy, agriculture, environment and representatives of the civil society.

The Coordinator of the basin users (farmers, fishermen and cattle breeders), Mr Nouradine Zakaria Toure: “it is imperative the basin’s water resources are used to produce food for our populations, but also electricity for productive uses – in this optic a joint approach is extremely interesting”. “We have an interministerial working group on the use of water resources. Thanks to the workshop I realised the key role of energy and will propose to my minister our participation in this working group” explained the energy representative from Benin.

The first day of the workshop focused on challenges, the second on possible Nexus solutions. The interactive approach throughout the workshop allowed the participants to engage in intense discussions on interconnections between the different sectors, first at the national level and then at the basin level. These discussions continued with equal intensity in the more informal setting of field visits, namely a canoe cruise on the Niger River, and a walk in the rice fields along the river.

During the first day, participants worked by country to identify, in response to the inputs of the GIZ-ABN team, the priorities, challenges and interactions between the different elements of the Nexus. The second day evolved around a role play on a transboundary dam project in the basin: country representatives worked by sector to formulate indicators of success of this project, which allowed to apply the approach and smooth out intersectoral conflicts.

The evaluation of the workshop by the country representatives was very positive. Suggestions for a future workshop (planned for 2018) have converged on a deepening of tools — such as Rapid Nexus assessment tools by the FAO — and case studies for which a Nexus approach could help resolve real tensions between sectors.

 

“The basin has an investment plan of 350 investments” reminded the ABN’s Executive Secretary, Madame Dr. Toupta Boguena”. Dr Guero, Technical Director of the ABN, added: “The project will accompany us in a reflection on the intersectoral coherence of the basin-wide investment plan, to make sure the goals we want to achieve can be achieved together”.

 

A joint reflection on the actions to be pursued at the individual level, country level, and by the NBA and the GIZ took place at the end of the workshop. Several concrete commitments from different actors were formulated, including national knowledge restitution workshops, inclusion of additional sectors in current project planning efforts, intensified dialogue between relevant ministries, and the availability of GIZ within the NBA to support all of these efforts.

This meeting took place in the framework of a series of workshops of the GIZ ‘support to the NBA’ project and the meeting of the Regional Steering Committee for Projects and Programs of the Niger Basin Authority.

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